The Ultimate Guide and Tips to Prepare for The GRE Test

The graduate record examination, or GRE Test, is a major step in the admission process for graduate school or business school. The GRE is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized examination that is often required worldwide for enrollment to graduate programs and graduate business (MBA) programs.

Test-maker ETS creates and administers the GRE to provide specific measures for college and business schools to assess the credentials of candidates and prepare themselves for college-level academic work. Graduate and business school admissions committees check at your GRE performance, along with your academic transcript and relevant documents, to determine your fitness for the daily grind of graduate education.

What is the key message? A high GRE score would have a strong, positive effect on your application for a college or business school.

gre test preparation
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

What does the GRE Test for?

The GRE Test plays a vital role in the admissions process for graduate and professional programs around the world, including business and law. The test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are required for success in today’s demanding programs.

The GRE Test is conducted at over 1,000 ETS-authorized test centers in 160-plus countries in a protected test environment. The computer-delivered GRE General Test is available year-round on a regular basis in most regions of the world. The computer-delivered test is accessible up to three times a month in Mainland China; Hong Kong, China; Taiwan, China; and Korea. Whereas a paper-based test is offered up to two times a year (November and February) in areas of the world where the computer-brought test is not available.

Where can I get free GRE Test samples?

Below are the best free GRE Test samples available on the web. They are basically sorted from the highest quality to the lowest quality though it’s safe using even the less-than-perfect tests.

PowerPrep II

If you have just one or two practice GRE exams to take, these will be the ones. PowerPrep II is one of the best materials usable for studying GRE. What you have to do is download the application to run two full practice GREs. They are official practice tests, meaning they’re conducted by the same people making the actual GRE you’re going to take on test day. Registered practice assessments are better to use because you can be sure that they have the same format, material, pacing and level of difficulty as the GRE itself. The biggest downside of these tests is that they do not provide details for explanations, but they are still a wonderful tool.

ETS Paper Exams

ETS, the GRE developer, published depleted GREs, too. They are official exams which were used many years ago, and the problems, like the PowerPrep tests, would be somewhat close to the GRE that you take on the day of the examination. Such tests share several questions with the PowerPrep tests, so we suggest that you take the PowerPrep tests first and use them to review all of the questions you’ve not seen before.

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Manhattan Prep Free GRE Test Sample

The free GRE Test sample from Manhattan Prep is one of the best current unofficial free GRE’s. You will need to setup a free account and you will be able to access the exam once you do so. As an unauthorized resource, the practice tests are high-quality, and the exam format is very close to what you’ll see on the testing day. As an additional perk, this test has some of the most in-depth descriptions of solution available for free GREs, so it’s a great tool if you’re struggling to grasp why you’re answering those questions incorrectly.

How should I start preparing for GRE?

There’s no cram for the GRE exam. The analysis is by and large a test of patterns, not facts, so if you want to increase your GRE score you’ll need enough time to study.

1. Find your benchmark

Your average score is the score you’d get if you’d taken the GRE today. Take a full-length GRE practice test in the same learning conditions as the actual thing before you do a practice plan. The results will direct your planning by showing you which areas of content you need to work most on.

2. Determine your target GRE score

You have probably began to compile a list of the graduate programs you are interested in. Try comparing your practice test score with each program’s average GRE scores of the most recent incoming class (find this information on the school website). Your goal score is one that will put you on your wish list at or above the schools average.

3. Make a plan to close the gap

You need a smart prep plan that will keep you focused and give you the results you desire, whether you want a prep course, online curriculum, or a test prep book. You’ll find the right setting for you with only a little work.

4. Practice for technique

Focus on how you approach each question while taking practice tests and drills. If you focus on just the results, you do nothing more than reinforce the way you are taking the test right now. The techniques you use and the way you solve a problem are what help you get better at taking the GRE.

5. Mimic real GRE conditions

Paper-and-pencil exercise will help you practice concepts and test-taking techniques, but they don’t adapt like the real GRE to your results. Make sure that you arrange online practice to better prepare you for the computer-based test scenario in your study schedule.

6. Review your results

Always examine your results after taking GRE practice tests. What sorts of problems do you overlook repeatedly? What types of questions do you manage to ace, and which ones would make you sweat? Here’s where a GRE mentor will really give you a massive advantage. Test preparation is just a part of contents mastering; it’s also about the pacing and testing skills. Sit down with a mentor to analyze your results on practice exams to be fully prepared and make a strategic plan to achieve your GRE score target.

What is the exam syllabus for GRE?

Realistically, there are three big parts within the current GRE syllabus that include:

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1. GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

This section consists of two tasks:

  1. analyze an issue task, and
  2. analyze an argument task.

A reference on a subject of common interest is drawn in the first task, and the participants are asked to examine the problem and articulate their respective ideas in a vivid and rational way. In the second task, there is a case in which the participants need to evaluate the logical strength of the argument given and to find out its positive and negative points. The objective of the GRE AWA section is not just to test the test-takers’ judgment on a particular topic but rather capture their analytical capacity and power of interpretation of a given argument.

In this section, below are some of the key points to remember:

  • Time Duration: 1 hour
  • of Questions: 2 Essays, 2 Sections with 1 essay in each.
  • Scoring: Marks 0-6 with an increment of 0.5

The AWA evaluates your writing skills and measures your ability to think objectively, express your ideas effectively and create an accurate and positive assessment.

2. GRE Verbal Reasoning

It evaluates the ability of the test taker to read and understand a written information in the English language in this section of the GRE exam syllabus that resembles the kind of material used at high school level. Under this section there are three types of questions:

  1. Reading Comprehension;
  2. Text Completion; and
  3. Sentence Equivalence.

The participant must understand the meaning of words and the phrases used in the passage in the first question type; he/she must understand how the various bits of a passage are linked to each other and pick some relevant points from the text and comprehend the ideas by reading between the lines and answering the questions based on the analysis performed.

Under the category “Text Completion”, the test taker is inquired to procure the missing words or idioms / phrases in the passage in question. The objective of this question is to test the capacity of the participant to fully integrate the given text and to make some relevant assumptions.

In Sentence Equivalence, it is requested that the candidate fill in the blanks of a sentence with the most appropriate and relevant word and choose an alternative word from the items listed. The objective of this section is not merely to select an appropriate word for a given sentence, but also to identify the best choice from among the possible answers.

Here are some of the keys points to remember in this section:

  • Time Duration: 1 hour
  • of Questions: 40 questions, 2 Sections with 20 Questions each.
  • Scoring: 130-170 with an increment of 1.

The verbal portion of GRE Tests the ability to read and interpret, along with the ability to evaluate arguments. It also tests the ability to correct the written material according to the rules of the Standard English Grammar. This consists of Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence based questions.

3. GRE Quantitative Reasoning

The main purpose of the Quantitative Aptitude for GRE is to assess the fundamental knowledge of the test-taker of basic math concepts such as Arithmetic, Algebra, Data Analysis, Geometry, etc. and problem-solving skills based on those concepts. Mathematics, geometry, trigonometry and statistics questions come primarily from those learned at university. Question types in this section include quantitative comparisons, numerical entry (calculation) questions and multiple-choice questions with the right answer(s), etc. A comprehensive list of different topics can be found on the ETS website for aspirants.

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Here are some of the keys points to remember in this section:

  • Time Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • of questions: 40 questions, 2 sections with 20 questions in each.
  • Scoring: 130-170 with an increment of 1.

The section on Quantitative Aptitude measures the quantitative skills, the ability to solve mathematical problems and perceive numerical data.

What is eligibility for GRE exam?

Participants wishing to qualify for GRE 2020 must be informed of the basic requirements for the test. Because there are no officially defined GRE eligibility requirements, applicants need to worry about having good GRE scores and verify the eligibility stated by the institutes they would like to keep hold of admissions.

  1. Under the GRE 2020 eligibility requirements ETS has no clear age limit. Candidates of any age who wish to pursue grades such as MBA, MS or law programs can take the GRE Test according to the admission requirements of the various institutes worldwide.
  2. There is no clear academic requirement for applying and appearing for the GRE Test under the GRE 2020 eligibility criteria. Mostly applicants who wish to obtain a Master’s degree or advanced Master’s degree in business, MBA, law or doctoral studies take the GRE Test. Accordingly, the GRE eligibility requirements checklist for academic qualifications can be reviewed using the facility provided on the GRE website for the country wise institutes where students can apply using their GRE scores.
  3. There are no fixed GRE requirements points. The score is usually used as a indicator of the performance of prospective students by institutes, which depends on the prospective institutes where candidates are seeking admission. Some institutes have set a limit for candidates in the different courses offered before pursuing admission. Candidates will then test this, and plan for the GRE 2020 accordingly.

When can I take the GRE Test in 2020?

GRE General Test Dates for Paper Delivered Testing are:

  • Test Date: November 9, 2020
  • Regular Deadline: September 27, 2020
  • Late Deadline: October 4, 2020
  • Online Score Availability: December 9, 2020

Dates of GRE for Paper Delivered Testing for Subject Test are:

  • Test Date: September 14, 2020; October 26, 2020
  • Regular Deadline: August 2, 2020; September 13, 2020
  • Late Deadline: August 9, 2020; September 20, 2020
  • Online Score Availability: October 14, 2020; November 25, 2020

What’s a good GRE Test score?

When considering your GRE score target in the competitive admission process for 2020, it is always prudent to look at the criteria or minima (if any) at the schools you are applying to. However, for reference, here’s what you need to know about your GRE score.

In each segment the GRE is graded on a scale of 130-170. You will earn both a GRE Verbal score and a quantitative score. Since there are so few potential scores that you can get on the GRE, it may be enough to answer only one more question correctly to turn an average score into a great result.

These grades will place you in the top 10% of all participants:

  • Verbal: 163 – 170
  • Quantitative: 165-170
  • Writing: 5.0 – 6.0

These scores will place you in a highly competitive admissions spot (top 25% of all candidates):

  • Verbal: 158 – 162
  • Quantitative: 159-164
  • Writing: 4.5

These scores set you ahead of the pack (50%+), but when applying to highly competitive programs, they won’t be as beneficial:

  • Verbal: 152-158
  • Quantitative: 153-158
  • Writing: 4.0

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